Brad Woodfin and his Brood October 02 2022

Brad Woodfin was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1970. He moved to Olympia, Washington in 1991 to study printmaking and painting at The Evergreen State College. His work has been featured in solo shows in New York, Vancouver, Calgary, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as group shows and art fairs in London, Miami, Hamburg, New York, Melbourne. Brad lives and works in Montreal.

Brad's solo exhibition Broods opens on 7 October 2022.

Interview by Gab Lewis. Photos supplied by Brad Woodfin.

We're so pleased to have you back Brad, this time with your own show! What can our viewers expect to see? What is the significance of the name Broods and how the works might embody this idea?

I think of this body of work as a family tree; so Broods as families and also Broods as in contemplates. I also love the sound of the word, “Broods."

The contrast between the seemingly infinite black background and vivid hues of the subjects is heavily featured throughout your body of work. Talk us through where this bold choice stemmed from?

I sort of stumbled upon the blackness. It represents a few different things for me. The night. The darkness of life. Infinity. Where all things come from and where all things are going. It depends on the painting.

Your composition, palette and application imply a reference to traditional forms of portraiture, reminiscent of old masters. Do you call on particular previous traditional movements or artists for creative influence?

I think when I started it was easy for me to compare my work to old masters, but now I don’t see it anymore. Maybe the style has become more my own? I see my work as very contemporary now and I used to see it through a lens of the past.

What draws you to painting subjects of nature and fauna, further focusing on the particular species you choose to illustrate?

Even though I paint animals I see them more as icons for how it feels to be human. I was born angry. I feel like the patriarchy and capitalism is against me and against beauty. I can express my feelings towards the world through them. They represent nature and beauty and suffering. Some of the animals I paint do represent specific things for me like violence and grief and I feel like I am just developing my language with them. It’s a slow process and I am always figuring things out.

Your work is subtly emblematic and deeply evocative, conveyed through your choice of palette, composition and styling. What do you hope viewers will draw from this series or experience emotionally as a result?

I would like these portraits to live with people and keep them company.

The likeness and realism in your practice is incredibly striking. Enlighten us on your process! From early references to a complete painting, we want to know more!

I work from photographs and I go through phases of what animals I paint. I never really know exactly why. If I think about it too much I feel a bit like a phony. It’s often just a photograph that strikes me.

You have the wonderful ability to capture the essence of the creatures you portray, what are the challenges that you come across when striving to do this?

The essence usually comes to me easily because the subjects I choose always possess so much character. I am just working from what they are giving me. The painting Loupin in the show is a great example of that. Hares have such a nervous energy to me, so much anxiety. Capturing that vibe is the pleasure of painting a hare. The challenges often come more from just the technical aspects of the painting.

Describe your perfect studio day: what does a day in the life of Brad Woodfin the artist look like?

Ideally I would have coffee, go for a walk then back to my studio to work with music and podcasts and no business to do.

It's evident that your works shift with a sense of duality between light and dark, still and full of life, the natural and the surreal. Do these contrasting aspects hold prominence in your practice?

I’ve never thought about it like that, but it makes total sense that those dualities would be important in adding tension and energy to my work.

Lastly and most importantly... if you could be an animal, what would you be and why?

First thing that comes to mind is a horse. Built, vegetarian, I would live in a cozy barn, but I want really nice owners and I don’t want to work and I for sure don’t want to be a cop.

Thank you for your time, Brad!